Insurers' efforts to encourage mediation have been given an important boost by the Court of Appeal, according to a senior litigation lawyer.

In the case of Halsey v Milton Keynes NHS Trust [2004], the court ruled that the winning party risks significant costs penalties if shown to have unreasonably refused alternative dispute resolution (ADR).

Beachcroft Wansbroughs litigation partner Mike Willis said that the judgment would encourage claimants to accept mediation.

"The case provides clarity as to when it would be unreasonable to refuse mediation."

But AXA claims director David Williams said that more local facilities were needed if use of mediation was to increase.

"We need more mediation and dispute resolution centres around the country to embed the practice."